“Deep listening is an act of surrender.
We risk being changed by what we hear.”
- Valarie Kaur
I am the rainbow sheep of my family. Being born and the last and only girl in my generation of 2.5 brothers and 11 male cousins, I've always been different.
When I first started on my spiritual journey I noticed it was a bit much for many family members. I don't think anyone expected that I would shave my head and move to a tropical island, or start spending week-long spaces in silent contemplation. I endured judgment and criticism. I even got in a few verbal tiffs usually ending with "You don't pay my bills so you don't get to decide my life!" The more defensive and inflexible I became, the more distance grew between me and my family.
There was a point when I was so defensive I realized that the behavior I was enduring, I was also displaying. I often found myself judging people that prioritized material possessions, and traditional Western lifestyles. I felt I had the right to judge others' journeys because I was "spiritual" and "righteous". It wasn't until someone I loved explained to me that they felt they were being seen through the lenses that they had been actively working to change, that a lightbulb switched in my head.
I never stopped to consider the grief that every person endures when someone they love changes. It's painful to come to terms with the hopes and dreams we wish for someone else, especially when they grow in a way we don't like. Still, it was painful for me to try to fit into boxes and plans that felt restricting and frankly boring. I knew I was doing my best, as were they, so I continued being my authentic self.
When this judgement shifted I started to notice the people around me growing into versions of their true selves. Realizing and pursuing their goals and ambitions, and living lives I would have never expected. The walls and arguments progressively softened and turned into deep joyful conversations of new experiences and lessons. Now, there is no doubt that I am still the rainbow sheep, but when I show up with my colorful energy I notice those around me that feel safe to be whatever color sheep they choose.
Food For Thought:
Often times we subconsciously mirror the way we feel to those around us. We become defensive when we are feeling attacked. We alienate others when we feel lonely. We stop listening when we don't feel heard Notice where this comes up in your life and how you are reacting.